Women’s History Month: Seraph Warren Holmes

As Women’s History Month comes to an end, we celebrate a woman who had a large impact on the early Warrenville community and the education of children, Seraph Warren Holmes.

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When private academies were flourishing before Illinois mandated compulsory education, the Warrenville Seminary, with Seraph Warren Holmes as its administrator, stood for education at its finest.

From its opening on September 14, 1851, Mrs. Holmes was the attraction that drew the bulk of its student enrollment (100 to 200) from Chicago and from the west as far as Rockford.  Among the seminary’s alumni were General Frederick Starring and Dr. John Maynard Woodworth of Chicago, the first surgeon general of the United States – a testament to Seraph as an educator.

Her teaching methods for her scholars were, in her own words, “…aimed to develop thought-power, to quicken mental activity, to rouse latent energy, and give the self-reliance necessary for the cumulative responsibilities that lay before them.”

Seraph Warren received her training back in her home state of New York.  After Julius Warren’s boarding house for lodgers was erected in 1835, he arranged for his 23-year-old cousin to take charge of the upstairs schoolroom.

For the next several years, she could be found teaching in Warrenville, either at one of the two academies in operation in the 1840s or in her parents’ home.  She also taught for a period in Chicago; one position was at Clybournville on the North Branch of the Chicago River.

Her marriage to Albert Holmes in January 1849 was supposed to close out her professional career, but widowhood brought her back to Warrenville in only five months.

After the seminary closed following the Civil War, Seraph and her mother moved to Rockford. There she opened “Mrs. Holmes School for Young Ladies,” but she made frequent trips back to Warrenville throughout her lifetime.

Biographical sketch taken from Leone Schmidt’s “Memorable Warrenville Women.”

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Hiram E. Leonard Diary, March 25 – 31, 1863

25th Wednesday  rather mor fine but dull weather for Spring. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 by Hoyts & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick.

26th Thursday  rather more fine but cool & disagreeable. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 by Hoyts & went to bed about 9 nearly sick with a  cold.

27th Friday  rather a fine day with cool air roads a getting better. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ by Hoyts & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick, Dan Fowlers corps arrived tonight about 5, cost 63 dols. coffin & all.

28th Saturday  rather a fine day with a cool air roads better. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ by Hoyts & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick. Dan Fowler was buried today in the burying place about 10 oclock this forenoon with many present, Sam McKellips mooved.

29th Sunday  A fine pleasant day & roads pretty good. I did my choars was at office from 11 to 3 a writing for Post Office was at home the rest of the day choaring writing etc. called at Hoyts etc Elder Barkley preached Dan Fowlers funeral sermon at Methodist Church at 2 oclock a full house. Frank was down today & went back about 5, I went to bed about 9 tiard & nearly sick with a cold.

30th Monday  rather fine weather but March like weather blustering. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick.

31st Tuesday  rather a cool raw windy & I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly  sick.”

Women of Warrenville

We hope you enjoyed our post last week on Mildred Baldwin, https://warrenvillehistorical.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/womens-history-month-mildred-baldwin/, please enjoy a couple more of her well-dressed women of Warrenville.

Lois StaffordMrs Robert Sleep

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, March 18 – 24, 1863

18th Wednesday  rather a fine day for the season. I did my choars was at the office all day & in the evening came home about 8 & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick.

19th Thursday  rather fine weather but cloudy & snowed during the night to the depth of about 1 foot tomorrow snow.  I came home about 8 & went to bed about 9 ½, Ferd Fowler died about 11 oclock tonight diseas of the lungs etc he came home from the army.

20th Friday  rather a disagreeable day, snow about a foot deep this morning which feel last night. I did my choars was at the office all day came home at 8 & went to bed at 9.

21st Saturday ground covered with snow & verry bad muddy getting round. I did my choars was at the office all day came home about 9 & went to bed about 9 ½ sick, Dan Fowler died in Galatine Tenn in hospital.

22nd Sunday  A thunder show in morning & in afternoon, a heavy shower. I did my choars was at home all day & took care of Bub while Caroline went to funeral of F F Fowler at 11 at Baptist house by Bulkly [in margin] F F Fowler was buryd.

23rd Monday  rather a muddy disagreeable day & evening & muddy. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 & went to bed about 9 tiard & nearly sick.

24th Tuesday  rather more fine, but bad getting round, I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home by Hoyts about 8 & went to bed about 9 nearly sick, heard that Dan Fowler was ded.”

Women’s History Month: Mildred Baldwin

As part of our celebration of Women’s History Month, the Historical Society is featuring Mildred Baldwin-Artist (1899-1979), a local woman who made it possible for other women in Warrenville to be celebrated.  Please enjoy learning a little more about this wonderful woman and the others that she featured in her column in upcoming posts.  Her column is also on display in our Art Gallery with an index of the featured women; stop in and look up your grandmother, mother, or even yourself!

As the writer of the famed column “Women of Warrenville” that ran in the Warrenville Digest in the 1960s and early 70s, Mildred Baldwin succeeded in making it possible for at least half of the women of Warrenville at that time to be recognized for who they were and what they had achieved.  The weekly newspaper column consisted of a biographical sketch as well as a fashion design type pencil sketch. The column encouraged the community to appreciate its women and it gave the women a reason to feel good about who they were and their accomplishments.

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Mildred received her art education at the Herron Art Institute, the Academy in Chicago and the Farnsworth School in Sarasota, Florida. As a young woman, Mildred was an advertising manager and fashion artist in Detroit.  After moving to Warrenville, she not only did the weekly column on women, but she also taught art classes in oil, water color, charcoal, and acrylics, as well as offering instruction in commercial art and fashion illustration.  The Warrenville News stated in its September 28, 1961 issue that Mildred was a particularly good teacher for beginners because of her emphasis on the fundamentals of drawing and composition.  She is also remembered for the annual art shows, somewhat like our current “Art on the Prairie,” that she held on her lawn at 28 W 456 Batavia Road in Warrenville.

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, March 11 – 17, 1863

11th Wednesday  rather fine weather. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ & went to bed about 10 nearly sick.

12th Thursday  fine weather for March, pretty good wheeling.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 & went to bed at 9 ½. F F Folwer started from Galatine for home.

13th Friday  fine weather & good walking.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 8 ½ & went to bed about 10.

14th Saturday  fine weather.  I did my choars was a the office all day & evening came home about 8 ½ by Hoyts & went to bed about 10 nearly sick.  F F Folwer arrived home from Galatine today 1 ½ oclock came through in 2 ½ days.

15th Sunday  A fine pleasant warm day, I did my choars was at the office all day & most settling with Col Warren came home by Hoyts between 4 & 5 did my choars was at home in evening with Bub.  Caroline went to McNelly & got home about 8 & I went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick.  Ferd Fowler was quite sick.

16th Monday  rather fine weather for March. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening. I did came home about 8 & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick.

17th Tuesday  rather fine weather for March. I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home about 8 & went to bed about 9 ½ tiard & nearly sick.”

Second Sundays at the Museum

Stop in the Warrenville Historical Museum & Art Gallery on the Second Sunday of each month to see and contribute to a special historical display.  The public is invited to bring in their own items to be displayed alongside the Museum’s collection pieces; items will also be accepted for donations into the collection or copied to be preserved in Warrenville’s history with the owner’s permission.

Patch from Warrenville's Irish Sister City

Patch from Warrenville’s Irish Sister City

On Sunday, March 10th, the Museum will display information about our Sister City, Youghal, Ireland, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  Stop in to see the display and bring in any memorabilia or items you have relating to our friends across the pond!  Items will be on display through April 7th. The Historical Museum & Art Gallery is open on Sundays from 1:00-4:00p.m.

Hiram E. Leonard Diary, March 4 – 10, 1863

4th Wednesday fine March weather.  I did my choars was at the office all day & in evening came home at 8 ½ & went to bed 9.

5th Thursday  rather fine weather.  I did my choars was at office all day & in evening came home at 8 ½ & went to bed at 9.  Mr Willson died at 8 morning.

6th Friday  fine weather but muddy.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 8 ½ went to bed at 9.  Mrs Willson was buried at 1 ____________.

7th Saturday  fine for March, I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home by Hoyts about 8 ½ & went to bed 9 Caroline was at Bliss to quilting & meeting evening got home near 10 with _______.

8th Sunday  snowed most of forenoon more pleasant in afternoon I did my choars went to office to settle with Warren stayed till near sunset came home did my choars was at home all the evening wrote some shaved me & went to bed about 9  Caroline went to meeting & left her at home she got home about 9.

9th Monday  rather a fine day & evening.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 8 & went to bed about 9 ½ nearly sick.

10th Tuesday  rather fine weather for March.  I did my choars was at the office all day & evening came home at 8 & went to bed about 10 nearly sick.”

Warrenville and the American Civil War: March 1863

In March Ferdinand Fowler was discharged from the 105th Illinois Infantry due to illness. His parents, Henry and Esther, were no doubt glad to have their son home on the farm the family had been living on just south of Warrenville.  Sadly, Ferdinand was only back on the farm for one week before he succumbed to a disease of the lungs on March 19. Before the Fowler’s could even begin to emotionally recover, the news of the death of their youngest son, Daniel, reached them.  He had died in Gallatin, Tennessee on March 21st.  Daniel’s body arrived home on the 27th of March.  It cost $63 to have his body sent to Warrenville, including the sparse coffin it was shipped in.  Elder Barkley preached Dan Fowler’s funeral sermon at the Methodist Church.

Taken from the Warrenville Historical Society’s program “1863 in 48 Minutes” that was held on January 27, 2013.